7 Things Every Manager Should Learn From Pep Guardiola

(4 min read)

Whether or not you are a soccer fan, you must have heard about Pep Guardiola. Regarded as one of the best players of his generation, he became one of the most successful soccer managers of all time. Part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” when he was a player, Guardiola became coach of Barcelona B in 2007 before managing the FC Barcelona for 4 years. Between 2008 and 2012, he won 14 trophies among them 3 Ligas and 2 UEFA Champions Leagues. He then took a year-long sabbatical before coaching Bayern Munich for 2 years, just enough to win 5 more trophies. Now manager of Manchester City FC, he’s enjoying one of his best season kick offs by winning his first 10 games in a row!

Indeed, Pep Guardiola’s success is coming from his managing style and leadership. Discover the 7 points that every manager should learn from Pep Guardiola.

1)   Work hard

Marti Perarnau, a respected Spanish journalist who wrote the book Pep Confidential, said that “Guardiola is a man who questions everything in his search for perfection; he realises the search is impossible but it is the search that drives him on”. Indeed, being a hard worker and setting high standards for yourself is the best way to show by example and to inspire your team.

2)   Be humble

“One thing I have noticed about Guardiola,” Alex Ferguson commented in the foreword of Guillem Balague’s biography of the Spaniard, “is that he has been very humble.” Ferguson believes this is crucial to Guardiola’s immense success. When asked about his successful managing career, Guardiola never mentions his tactical abilities or his different managing style, he always gives credit to his players and their qualities. As Guardiola’s style indicates, using humility will enhance your employee engagement and job performance.

3)   Develop your team

Pep Guardiola is always looking forward to helping his players grow and become better. One of the most recent examples is the text he sent to Raheem Sterling during the Euro 2016 in France, while the English player was struggling with his national team and being heavily criticized by fans and press. Henry Writer, the Times’ Chief Football writer, reports Guardiola’s message as follows: “Don’t worry, I know you’re a good player. As long as you work for me, I’ll fight for you”. Efficient managers and leaders are always trying to protect and develop people in their team.

4)   Communicate efficiently

In order to successfully develop his players, Guardiola is putting the emphasis on communication. He’s said to dedicate 15 minutes a day for one-to-one talks with each of his players. “Pep doesn’t just give you orders,” said Gerard Pique, “he also explains why”. Pep’s emphasis on communication shows how giving orders is not enough, but explaining and focusing on each team member’s role is the key to success.

5)   Build your own vision

After a few weeks under Pep Guardiola’s management at Manchester City, Gael Clichy said: “In a short period of time, he’s shown us how great he is. He wants us to play good football, the way he sees football. His philosophy is the priority.” Indeed, having a clear vision and communicating it directly, instead of using top-down commands, helps employees understand the value of their own work. When managers clearly articulate the nature and purpose of the vision inviting employees to climb aboard, the team’s objectives are more likely to be successful.

6)   Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom

On his first day as FC Barcelona’s manager, Pep Guardiola decided to get rid of the 3 biggest stars of the team: Ronaldihno, Deco and Samuel Eto’o. He said: “It is time for a ‘restart’ in this dressing room. I don’t know if there are bad habits — but the past is gone. I won’t tolerate lack of effort to rebuild success. Above all I want even the most talented players to invoke team values.” If you challenge conventional wisdom, you will always find ways to do things much better than they are currently done.

7)   Give chance to youth

When the Barca kids sealed the title in 2008 then followed it with promotion to the third division, Guardiola called it “one of the biggest joys I’ve experienced as a sportsman”. He even promoted Sergio Busquest to the first team a year later, giving him a spot in the starting line-up. Indeed, relying on youth is the best ways for managers to invest in the future and ensure a boom of new talents.

Author’s note: This is a personal article. Any views or opinions represented in this article are personal and and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the author may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.

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